More Brown Trout Than You Can Shake a Stick At – Or A Fly Rod

I ran into a young fisherman a few days ago. His name is Evan Martens and he loves to fish. Evan and I exchange emails from time to time and for me it is a good way of finding out how the fishing is in this area. Evan likes to fish small streams and big water like the Bow River, so he is a perfect source of information, when I am trying to write about the state of the local sport fishery.

For me personally, it is very refreshing to find a young angler with the same urge to fish that I once had. Furthermore, he does a lot of fishing and knows the local haunts of large trout very well. As he scolled down the photo lists of recent catches, on his cell phone, I could see that there were more photos of huge brown trout than you could shake a stick at. So he definitely knows how to catch large trout. I asked him if I could use a few of his photos in my websites and he agreed to send me some.

The Evan Martens photo above; shows one of the nicely colored brown trout that Evan has caught and released lately. Note the brilliant red color spots on this beauty. The exact location of this particular catch is unknown, but that is just normal fisherman non-disclosure practices. Bottomline; it is nice to know that there are some real beauties still lurking about. It is also comforting to know that young anglers practise catch and release these days, especially considering there are no good regulations in place to protect this magnificant wild trout population, on some smaller area streams.

I will continue to check in with Evan Martin and other local anglers to see how their personal fishing experience is, so that I can relay this info to my readers. Fisheries managers are also welcome to the information relating to our local fishery, as well.

My personal experience seems to be more related to smaller varieties of trout, when it comes to fishing this reach of the Bow River. But the good news is; there are plenty of small brown trout and growing numbers of small rainbow trout in our length of the river, so this holds promise for the future angling opportunities. We will see what happens next year. I suspect that the overall population of trout in the Bow River will be up in 2020!

Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program – August 2019 Update

I had a meeting and tour of some of our planting sites in Calgary, on West Nose Creek, yesterday. Calgary Parks ecologist Andrew Phelps joined me to inspect some plantings from the past and also this springs crop. Everything looks good for this year’s planting results, with lots of surviving plants and they are growing fast. It has been a fantastic year for growth on all of our local streams that we plant on.


The plan for 2020 was discussed and we are good to go for next year, on West Nose Creek. By fall, BVHD will have all of the organizing complete for this next year’s planting program. We are at 71,914 plants planted thus far, so next year I am hoping we can break the 80 thousand plant mark. What ever we manage to get into the ground in 2020 will all be good for this riparian restoration program.

I am especially pleased with how much volume of flow we are experiencing on all of the small streams in our planting program. It is really good to see how the water table is recharged and providing good water levels in local creeks. This fall’s brown trout and brook trout spawning season may be a banner year for these wild trout populations.

Trout Stream Restoration

   What makes a stream a prime candidate for a trout stream restoration program?

    The following summary is of a few answers to this question that may be relavent:

  •  When a stream historically held a population of trout, but no longer does, due to the impacts of natural or human related impacts.
  •  When no historic documentation confirms that it was once a trout stream, yet there are trout present in other areas of the watershed and it is deemed to have the potential of supporting a resident trout population, after a restoration program is completed.
  • The stream that is considered for restoration is a tributary to a trout bearing stream and it has adequate gradient, acceptable water quality and volume of flow.
  • The stream is populated with a small number of resident trout on only portions of its entire length, due to poor habitat or channel substrate and geometry.

Cause and Effect!

    Before any trout stream restoration plans can be drafted, it is necessary to identify what impacts have contributed to the degradation of the stream’s present condition. If this approach is not followed through with, you may end up with a restoration program that is destine to fail or regress over time.

    Problems such as silt loading, riparian damage, loss of gradient or water quality can be identified and delt with accordingly, prior to any restoration work being initiated. Issues like beaver management, storm drain inflow, agricultural impacts that involve fertilization or nutrient saturation, livestock or prior channization work can all contribute to a trout streams demize!

    I know that issues relating to roadside runoff and silt containment have been greatly improved in my home province in recent years. This is very obvious on all new road and bridge construction projects on and around our transportation system.

Design and Permitting!

    In order to insure that your design for the restoration work program includes structures that will withstand known high flow events, it is necessary to obtain historic flood data or consult with a hydrologist to establish a 1:100 year flood event, either known or predicted. If there are no records of such occurances, an examination of the watershed to estimate maximum run-off possibilities much be determined.

    If your plan is acceptable to the required government agencies responsible for issuing permits, you should have no difficulty in acquiring those necessary permits. This is where a consulting firm with experience in such matters can be helpful. I would like to remind you that these permits and permissions are legally required and no work should be attempted without them!

In-Stream Work and Activities!

    Included in the permitting terms and conditions, you will find that you need to follow the in-stream activities period or time window that allows you to work during specific times of the open water season. These time constrains are designed to protect fish species in the area where the work is to be completed. For example; it there is a fish species that is known or suspected to be spawning in that watershed, at a certain time of year, any disturbance of the water quality could disrupt that activity and possibly kill fish eggs downstream of your work area.

    Also included in the permit guidelines is the necessity to keep any silt caused by your work, at a minimum. This can be accomplished by the use of silt fences, silt trap pools and flow by-pass equipment. The use of these preventitive measures are a very important part of your overall work program!

    With all of these bases covered and if your design and work plan is a good one, you should be successful in your end goals or  objectives!